1. Feo Takahari
    Offline

    Feo Takahari Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2016
    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    Just above the treetops

    The root of a character's faith

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Feo Takahari, Jan 18, 2016.

    I was sick of stories where Christians fight evil scientists or scientists fight ignorant Christians, so I came up with Shannon, a chemistry nerd from an eco-Christian denomination who views scientific study as a form of worship. I've had a lot of fun building her up and determining her path for growth, but I still have one unanswered question: where does her faith in God come from in the first place?

    To give some idea of why I'm worried about screwing this up, I read a book a while ago with one designated atheist character, Sefton. Sefton's reason for not believing in God was that he was gay and had been harassed and persecuted by Christians. This was framed as stubborn refusal, like he knew on some level God existed but just wouldn't worship him out of anger and bitterness. Even though Sefton was treated sympathetically, this felt incredibly patronizing to me, as if the author couldn't even think of a reason for someone to genuinely not believe in God. (It almost reminded me of when authors have to make excuses for why someone is a lesbian, because obviously a woman needs a reason to not be attracted to men!)

    At the same time, I inadvertently developed Shannon's character arc into one of gradually increasing refusal to bow down and obey others who think they know better than her. Three different characters each want her to follow them, and it kept making sense for her to reject them. Given that her world is being invaded by demonic monstrosities and innocent people are dying around her, she has every right to question her faith, and it would feel unrealistic if that was the one point where she never doubted.

    I've gone through and rejected multiple ideas, ranging from direct experience of a miracle to a Descartes-inspired appeal to personal nature. My current idea was inspired by some of Barack Obama's words about his faith--that it was "a choice, not an epiphany," and it didn't make him stop questioning. In this formulation, Shannon likes who she is, and she believes that her faith in God and her devotion to Christian teachings are among the things that guide her to be a good person. She can't prove any of it's real, but she'd rather act like it's real than go through life without it. This sets up interesting parallels or contrasts with three other characters, feeds into the overall message of the story, makes her rejection of one of the villains a lot more painful, and makes a good setup for a massive rant from another protagonist who finds it offensive on multiple levels. Despite this, I feel like it's missing a certain amount of heft. Faith is often a very emotional experience, so is it really okay to make the basis of her faith so cold and impersonal?
     
  2. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Well, as you said re the atheist gay character - you didn't like it that it seems the author couldn't be bothered to think of a genuine reason for why he might not believe in God. Rather the author used an excuse, to your mind, of the character being bitter and therefore his unbelief is that of stubborn refusal as opposed to a decision made with logical reasoning.

    Now you seem to be making the same mistake with your theist character. It seems she doesn't have a good reason for believing except that God/religion is a crutch to her existence, that she couldn't live without her fairytale illusions and therefore she's just gonna stubbornly hold onto them against all reason. That's not a genuine reason to believe, just as the gay character you criticised the treatment of did not seem to have a genuine reason to not believe.

    You're right that Shannon should totally question God and have doubts - wouldn't be realistic otherwise. You're also right that the current reason for her holding on to her faith is realistic. But if you had wanted to treat faith and science differently than most people seem to treat it, then I dunno... I'd prefer a different reason.

    I'm a Christian by the way :D and yeah Shannon's reasoning didn't really sit right with me. Certainly some element of it is fine, but for it to be the core or only reason to hold on... I dunno.
     
    Feo Takahari likes this.
  3. NeighborVoid
    Offline

    NeighborVoid Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Messages:
    237
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    Planet Earth, Origin System
    Childhood indoctrination.
    It subconsciously supersedes logic.
     
  4. Feo Takahari
    Offline

    Feo Takahari Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2016
    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    Just above the treetops
    One of my very first ideas for Shannon was actually "She loves and respects her mentor, The Reverend Hayes, so much that she's unwilling to question everything he's taught her." This would certainly hurt quite a bit when Hayes becomes a villain and she has to kill him, but she needs something to keep believing in afterwards.

    Though actually, there's another factor going on with her otherworldly love interest Tuotahl. Tuotahl was originally a member of the religious sect that released the main villain. It destroyed her entire world and moved on across the planes of existence. When she realized what a mistake she'd made, she needed to believe in something else to keep functioning, and the purity of Shannon's faith drew her in. I don't intend to make Shannon's initial reasons for believing quite that shallow, but I could get away with severely damaging her faith with Hayes's betrayal so long as Tuotahl builds it back up afterwards and convinces her there was value in it.
     
  5. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,346
    But WHY does she love and respect The Reverend Hayes? Why does she even have him as her mentor?

    The implication is that he's her mentor because she's religious; but why was she religious in the first place? This sounds like @NeighborVoid 's childhood indoctrination, i.e., she believes because her upbringing taught her to believe, and she hasn't yet had a reason to question this.

    And if "Hayes becomes a villain and she has to kill him" this implies a rather lapsed belief in the ten commandments that would certainly require some mental gymnastics to justify enough to keep on believing.
     
  6. LostThePlot
    Offline

    LostThePlot Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2015
    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    343
    I think what you need to look at is pantheistic (and possibly gnostic) beliefs. They aren't really popular, at least among modern day faiths, but if you go back into the late 1800s, early 1900s there were a decent amount of fairly smart pantheists around that you can draw from. Typically those kind of beliefs (even framed in a Christian way) come from a rejection of an earlier idea of faith. If it was me writing it then I'd make her a traditional Christian in her youth (for me she'd be a Catholic; I think it fits better than Born Again/Evangelical) then as she studied science she began to see that there was a lot there that her existing faith didn't understand but she didn't just abandon faith (probably had a genuine religious experience of some sort) but she did want to move to a different model of belief. And so she liked the idea of seeing God in all things and all ways and science is just the language of God. And that's what drives her to both be Green and to do research. Green because all things are god and thus all things should be protected. Research because the more we know of the world the more we understand the nature of the divine.

    Pantheist beliefs are kinda zen in a sense, since they don't really acknowledge that things could be innately good or evil, so in your story where there is (unless I'm reading it wrong?) actually an objective good and an objective evil that might be an interesting character points as she has to reconcile her idea of everything being godly with the existence of things that very much are not. Maybe that shifts her belief slightly (perhaps she rationalizes that in nature every particle has an anti-particle) or maybe she even goes back to her old flock. But that's a thing to play with.
     
  7. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    With people who believe in God - I'm gonna assume you don't, since otherwise I think you would've already mentioned this - it's really not just a faith that you believe in but otherwise do nothing with. With religious faith, you often live it - or at least you're supposed to. It's not as simple as "believing in" or "not believing in" God - by not believing in the God you originally believed in, you must abandon a whole host of principles, morals, obligations etc that you have lived by, that have built you up etc. God is at the very foundation of how you understand the world - by suddenly not believing in Him would mean you must restructure your entire worldly outlook.

    And even more than that, it means all those occasions when you thought God spoke to you, God did this or that, God answered my prayers, God was there for you - all those things would have to be absolutely false. You're not talking about a simple change in belief here - like if tomorrow the scientists announced Neptune isn't a planet either, it wouldn't change my life, nor do I really care (yep, Pluto was still a planet when I was in school!) To stop believing in God would be as if someone told me, "I'm sorry but your mum just died." God is not a belief - God is a living being, an entity that talks and creates and walks and loves. To say God does not exist - to cease to believe in God - would necessitate that He essentially "dies". Like the way a dream dies. The way hope dies. That's what it would be. Because you'd be telling me that someone I loved and followed didn't exist at all - it was an invisible friend and I've been taken for a fool. Or perhaps the husband who turns out to have never loved you at all. It would be betrayal at the deepest level.

    To keep Shannon believing - she would likely have to see something or have something happen that she would attribute to God, something that convinced her God still exists. More than God exists - one can believe in God but not love or follow Him. Something needs to happen that convinced her not only does God exist but that God loves her. (I'm now speaking entirely from my understanding of Christianity now by the way - since yours seems to be a fantasy book, as you mention some otherworldly character, you may of course use some creative licence)

    What kept me going back to my faith is a genuine belief that this God I believe in not only exists, but that He loves me. If there's a person out there who does everything good for you out of love, at some point you do kinda think to yourself, "What am I doing pushing this person away!?"

    This doesn't mean your faith doesn't morph. I used to be convinced only those who believed in Jesus Christ were saved (yes, go to heaven to be with God for all eternity where there's no suffering or death, basically). I'm no longer so sure. I used to believe gay relationships were sinful - I don't anymore. I used to believe sex before marriage was sinful - while still convinced sex within marriage is better and marriage the proper place for sex, I'm no longer so sure it matters as long as the relationship is committed. I used to accept the logic that my church supplied me, cheerfully spouted the blind elephant analogies etc in an attempt to explain why I know the way to God and my friend doesn't then wondering why on earth they're offended - I'm now much more criticial of Christians than I am of the non-believer. I used to nod my head at why when God allowed Israel to win a battle and then slaughter thousands in the Bible it is evidence that "our God is good and mighty hurray!" - now I keep quiet as Christians beside me go "Our God is good and mighty hurray!" because I'm no longer comfortable with that.

    Yet this Sunday as I was in church with my baby and my husband and the worship song came on with the lyrics, "This is our God" - a merciful, humble God who is mighty to save - my heart glowed. Deep at the root of it is faith that this God exists and is living - it's not just knowledge, it's someone I live for. It's not just faith, it's someone I rely on when life gets too scary, knowing there's someone bigger than me who can keep my daughter safe when I can't, that there's someone who knows my path in life when I don't. It's hope when nothing is wrong and yet I look around and ask, "Is this all there is?"

    So your character's faith should certainly morph, I believe. Faith matures, faith is a journey. It's not static. I'd question how genuine one's faith is if one has never doubted. In fact, it is because I doubt that I know I have faith - faith is belief in the unseen and anyone who examines their faith critically is going to come to a point where they go WTF? :p How can you be sure, after all, that God exists? A healthy amount of doubt is quite normal, and, I believe, good, because it keeps you open to questions, to new possibilities, to a critical examination of your own faith and religion and religious practices.
     
    Shadowfax and LostThePlot like this.
  8. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    If you're seeking an analytical reason for faith and believing in God that might be appropriate to a scientific-minded character, consider Pascal's Wager:

    The thrust of the argument is that humans all bet with their lives (their eternal existence/soul) either that God exists or that God does not exist.

    Based on the assumption that the stakes are infinite if God exists (the benefits are exceedingly great considering eternity) and that there is at least a small probability that God in fact exists, Pascal argues that a rational individual should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some earthly pleasures, luxury, etc. over the course of a brief lifetime/existence on Earth), whereas they stand to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid an infinite loss (an eternity in in Hell).
     
    Catrin Lewis and Mckk like this.
  9. Feo Takahari
    Offline

    Feo Takahari Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2016
    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    Just above the treetops
    @Shadowfax Hayes is, or at least starts out as, the most noble and selfless person she knows. Her idea of how to be a hero is entwined with her idea of how to be like Hayes, and not undeservingly so. Even when the villain starts messing with his head, he's never really "evil" per se.

    @Mckk There are a couple different ideas wrapped up in your post, and I'm not sure how best to separate them out. I apologize if this comes off as insulting or condescending.

    A recurring idea in the story is people doing the right thing only because they want to. Shannon isn't mentioned in Tuotahl's prophecy, but she sees people fighting to save the world and wants to help them in whatever way she can. Lewis knows the prophecy is false and expects to die no matter what he does, but he'd rather go out fighting than cowering. Tuotahl doesn't believe she can atone for the things she's done, but she wants to do at least some good rather than just give up.

    You mention a loving God, and you also mention a God who does things for you. God may love Shannon, but at least by the end of the story, I don't want to have her believing that God will protect her or bail her out. That's simply not the kind of story I want to write. If she's fighting, she's doing so without any definite promise of success. She's doing so because she wants to do the right thing, no matter the cost.

    Maybe I'm not cut out for this. The last time I tried for a Christian character, I asked a Christian writer to cowrite with me. I wanted both the Christian and the atheist character to have a chance of being right, but she kept pushing for the Christian to believe based on proven miracles. In order to have any conflict in the story, I had to make the atheist more and more irrational and blindly argumentative until we both wrote it off as a loss.

    @LostThePlot I forgot to mention that Shannon, Lewis, and Tuotahl are all around high school age. (At least physically--Lewis is complicated.)
     
  10. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Oh no, not at all, you're not insulting :) Actually, going by Christian teachings, Jesus said we were to suffer with him. Now, eternal glory is promised - but He never promised success in this particular life. Evil reigns time and again in real life, and Christians are regularly persecuted, say, in Somalia, North Korea etc. I have read an account written by a survivor of a North Korean concentration camp and she described the Christians there, who continued to sing praises as they worked, and one day some of the guards simply shut the Christians inside some kind of furnace or oven - I don't remember exactly now - and poured molten metal over them. Their faith was not broken, but I'd hardly call that a story of "success" or one where God "bailed" them out. These people died. That's reality - and that's the reality people of faith live with and still we believe. I can only hope I would keep my faith when faced with such adversity.

    Another Christian I can think of, the infamous Corrie ten Boom. Her family hid Jews during the Holocaust and they were eventually found out and her, her sister Betsy and their father were all sent to a concentration camp. Betsy died in the camp. Their father died in prison before he ever reached the camp because he was too frail. Corrie alone survived and she lived to stand face to face with one of the Nazi officers who guarded their camp and took part in her torment - he stood before her and said, "How wonderful it is to know that Jesus has forgiven all my sins!" And there and then, asked her for her forgiveness, recognising who she was. She clasped his hand and forgave him.

    That's what genuine faith does - gives you the power to forgive as Corrie did. But no, she did live through a Nazi concentration camp - God did not bail her out. The rest of her family died because of this. God did not bail any of them out.

    Faith isn't dependent on thinking that God will "bail" you out. What God promised us was his peace and strength and glory in the afterlife - in this life, if anything, God asked us to suffer with Him. Suffer as Jesus Himself suffered.

    I'm sorry to hear of your Christian co-writer being difficult though :( No, certainly an atheist would not believe in the many miracles a Christian would so readily believe. It would need to be a hell of a miracle like, cancer miraculously cured overnight for no reason for an atheist to believe it was a miracle, I think. But the average "miracle" the day-to-day Christian encounters is - say, for example, when I applied for my permenant residency in the Czech Republic, it went unnaturally smoothly - even my interpreter said so. She said she's never seen such an easy and short interview, and she's done a number of these. I maintain it was blessed by God - it wasn't a miracle, but I firmly believe God had a hand in this. An atheist would definitely dismiss me or give me a nice polite nod and smile hahaha :D

    By the way, the very idea of doing good because it is the right thing to do is quite a Christian principle in itself :) Be holy, as your Father in heaven is holy, after all.

    ETA: if anything, the shift of her faith to where she believes and loves God while also believing she might die fighting, that God isn't going to give her a miraculous success - that is a good step forward in faith. That shows maturity - that God isn't some magical Santa Claus there to give us an easy life and lots of presents. That shit happens but God still reigns, He's still good, somehow, in all this. Believing that God's goodness isn't dependent on what He does for you. That's good stuff :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
    Feo Takahari likes this.
  11. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,658
    Likes Received:
    5,140
    I don't think you can find a rational reason for faith. Pascal's Wager may suggest that we should act as if we believe, but the ultimate belief? I think the whole point of faith is that it's irrational and you believe anyway.

    I'm not religious, so I could be wrong, but I think people who truly believe in God (or gods) send a question out into the universe and hear an answer; I send a question out and hear an echo. It's not rational, it's not based on reason, it's just... faith. You know?
     
  12. Ben414
    Offline

    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2013
    Messages:
    974
    Likes Received:
    785
    I know this isn't the point of your post, but that wager's logic doesn't seem strong.

    For that argument to work, we would have to assume that there is some reason to believe what some people have said is god's well is more likely to be god's will than other potential set of god's will. This may seem possible, but the question remains--How? Do we look at the many different religious texts' recounting of history and see which best matches up with our geological/anthropological/historical/biological/etc. sciences? But why should we assume our science-based analysis is more likely to be useful for analyzing god's work than any other analysis? Furthermore, how can we determine a literal interpretation is more likely to represent god's will than a mythological interpretation? I don't see any way to determine whether one interpretation is more likely to represent god's will than another, meaning that there are literally an infinite number of sets that could all equally represent god's will. This means that regardless of whether god exists, we have no ability to increase our chances of gaining from a potential afterlife because if god exists because we have no way of determining what most likely represents his will. Therefore, a logical person will live their life ignoring what other people say is god's will (since whatever actions/beliefs they choose are only as likely as any other to represent his will if he exists) and live their live solely according to their current existence.
     
  13. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,374
    Likes Received:
    313
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    Faith? What a can of worms. You want to know why people believe as they do? How long have you got?

    But lets start at the beginnings, with what we are raised to believe in. That plays a huge part in our lives - and your MC's are young people. I'd have to start by saying that they haven't really reached the age where they would have done a lot of questioning of their beliefs. And everyone does. Whether they're athiests or believers, at some stage everyone questions what they believe in. It's part of growing up. Separating oneself from one's parents.

    Next, consider the underlying needs / values of the person. The call to faith of any sort runs much deeper than mere dogma. I often tend to think there are two basic sets of world views around. Those who believe that they can understand the world. And those who believe that they can't. IE those who accept mysteries and those who don't.

    Often in my view atheists fall into the first camp. They tend to believe that the world can be completely understood. That it's all rational. And that if only they learn to push the right little lever everything will work as they expect. This is also a fear because to believe that there are some mysteries which don't fit into their methodological naturalism world view, is stressful to them.

    Meanwhile believers often start out in the other camp. They know from the outset that the world is bigger and stranger and more wondrous than they can understand. And they don't just accept that, they welcome it. To come to the idea that the world is simply nuts and bolts that they don't understand, is to rob them of some of the wonder of it. Again the methodological naturalist is stressful to them in turn.

    Now we have to throw in a rather brilliant Scandinavian known as Soren Kierkegaard - do look him up and especially his two most important concepts. The Leap to Faith and the Knight of Faith. Both are relevant to your characters. The Leap to Faith is a brilliant insight which tells us that you will never come to truly believe sitting their simply reading words and listening to sermons etc. You cannot find God through Logic or dogma. He's actually quite scathing of churches for this failing. As he says at some point at some point you have to make a choice. You have to go beyond logic and what you've been taught, and actually take a leap. A sort of "this feels right to me" sort of jump. This is where people go from being just a Sunday church goer who knows the words and the stories etc, to someone who truly believes.

    Interestingly I suspect atheists go through this same leap in some cases. And they go from simply disbelieving in the established religions etc to suddenly "knowing" there is no God.

    Last, there is another person you should look up and read a bit on. Karen Armstrong. An ex-nun who writes about faith and Christianity. And in particular about the concept of praxis. Of not simply worshipping and hearing the words etc. But of living your faith. You cannot simply hear the words and then not act as a Christian. (Think of all those Mafis Catholics!) You have to actually live the faith. Christianity is a religion you live and breathe. It's the doing not the words.

    Your characters are young. I cannot imagine them having taken all these steps to forming an adult faith structure either as a believer or a non-believer. But they may be on the road.

    I hope that helps.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
    jannert and Mckk like this.
  14. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    No, Ben414, it wasn't the point of my post, and debating the merit of Pascal's Wager, while I'd be happy to do so, isn't really germane to the content of this thread.

    I offered the OP, who has a character strongly associated with science, a logical/analytical method/reasoning to reinforce her faith. In essence, Pascal's Wager says, if you have everything to gain by seeking God and faith, and virtually nothing to lose in doing so, the choice is apparent. And if you decide against seeking God and faith, the consequence is to potentially lose everything, for very little gain in not seeking God and faith. Or simply, if you have faith, and in the end, for some reason, God does not exist, what have you really lost? But if decide against God, and he does exist, what have you lost? Simple cost/gain analysis. Why wouldn't you choose God? Using that criteria, the character could make the logical choice moving forward, supporting a reason for her initiated and continued faith.
     
    jannert likes this.
  15. GuardianWynn
    Offline

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,088
    Likes Received:
    672
    I think I personally have a view that might help you here. And I am real! I swear! lol.

    I am not religious. Yet I love the idea of faith. I personally don't like religion because I have scene too much pain come from it. So I see it as something that does not help people but does hurt people. This is all logical, yet I love the idea of faith.

    I love the idea that you believe in something so strongly, that you don't care that it isn't or likely isn't true. You simply like it. I like thinking that love is such a strong emotion that it will completely change my life when I first stare into the eyes of my future loved one. Yet, logically I don't think this is true. I think love happens later.

    So, if the character you have just said. "Well, scientistifically, I cannot give you an objective basis for god, but I like the idea. I like thinking about him or her watching us like some guardian angel. So I believe it because I like it."

    I sort of think of your second case more explains it. Why does the character need an explainable objective reason to explain why they like something? They like it. That is all you need. :)
     
  16. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,658
    Likes Received:
    5,140
    But I think you need to distinguish between seeking God and faith, and achieving it.

    Personally, I'd LOVE to believe in God. An afterlife? A way to comfort myself when loved ones die? Hell, yeah, I would LOVE to be able to believe in that. And I've absolutely tried to do it. I've sought my ass off.

    But I can't do it. When it comes right down to it, I don't believe it's true, as lovely as it would be if it were.

    That's why I don't think you can use logic or reason or willpower on this one. My perception of reality, whether its shared with others or not, is too strong for me to able to fool myself that I believe something I really don't.

    (And, by the way, I think the vast majority of supposedly religious people are in the same boat I am, but a little less honest about it. If you truly believe in a merciful god, a perfect afterlife, etc., then death is something to be welcomed, not avoided. But most people on their deathbeds are fighting for life. They don't really believe they're going somewhere better.)
     
    jannert likes this.
  17. Ben414
    Offline

    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2013
    Messages:
    974
    Likes Received:
    785
    Maybe I'm misinterpreting your use of bold text, but it seems like you're annoyed with me? My post wasn't meant to be a personal attack, and I never said your post was worthless or OP should ignore your post. I merely pointed out what I saw as flaws in Pascal's Wager insofar that one does not have anything to gain by seeking a specific interpretation of god. It's only tangentially related to the thread, but IMO it's not so distracting as to merit any negative response.
     
  18. BrianIff
    Offline

    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,294
    Likes Received:
    433
    Location:
    Canada
    Thing that's important to remember about Pascal's Wager is that it is an old philosophical concept, for the arena of philosophy where one cannot rely on Biblical claims. I, myself, have never heard it referred to, by name or in idea, in church or televangelism. I first heard of it in intro to philosophical problems at university, years after becoming a Christian. Furthermore in the same vein, for Christians at least, the idea of pinning hopes on a promise is far off the mark, for whatever it's worth for me to claim this. They believe in a connection to God through prayer. I've recently began praying again and I sense a perceptible presence not analogous to placebo effects or meditation. To repeat, Pascal's Wager is not the basis of faith.
     
  19. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    No, I often bold the individual I am responding to, or if there is another member being mentioned. I guess I could use the @ sign, but just don't. No annoyance with me. :)
     
    Ben414 likes this.
  20. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Actually, from the 6 months my husband worked in the cancer ward for terminal patients as a health care assistant, he says the only people who had peace were the Christians. Everyone else of other faiths as well as those of no faith were terrified and asked him many questions about death and what happens after. To him, that was a powerful indication that Jesus is the way to God and salvation. And on his ward somebody died every week. My husband often prepared the bodies afterwards too (most staff didn't want to deal with it) and he would say a prayer over them.
     
  21. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,346
    A friend from schooldays took the opposite view...If God is so all-forgiving, he'll forgive me for being an atheist.

    But I'm with @BayView over the validity of Pascal's Wager...If you believe, you believe. If you don't, then all-knowing God will know you're not really believing, and will discount your belief as simply a cost/benefit analysis; you'll end up in the same box (wherever that is) as the rest of the non-believers.
    @Mckk , I've got to take you to task for the notion that you MUST abandon your principles by abandoning your belief in God.

    There is no compulsion about abandoning your principles; there's almost an implication in your statement that by abandoning belief you embrace living without principles and take life as a selfish battle where the only limits on what you can get away with are those that are imposed upon you by outside authority...if you're not going to get caught, you can get away with it.

    By that token, the implication is that belief in God (and his "Vengeance is mine..." way of working) is the only thing that keeps us from behaving in an immoral manner...again, for fear of the consequences. Pascal's Wager, after all, is only a matter of believing in God because otherwise he'll cast you into eternal torment - consequences or what!

    Quite often there IS a correlation between faith and doing good works, but by the same token there is also a strong correlation between faith and extreme intolerance (The Spanish Inquisition in history, the behaviour of DAESH today). And the Great Schism of 1054 is still a factor in the inability of Christianity to come to an agreement about a fixed date for Easter! Talk about forgive and forget!
     
  22. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,658
    Likes Received:
    5,140
    And all of the Christians had peace?

    Honestly, even if they did, I would just say that meant they were better at deluding themselves than non-Christians, because, again, when I reach for something larger in the universe, I just keep reaching and never find anything... but I can see how, for a person of faith, this would be interpreted differently.

    Then again, for a person of true faith, I don't see why they'd be looking for earthly proof of something they already know is true. I also don't see why someone with true faith would be angry at those who don't share it. There's a lot I don't understand about the behaviour of people of faith, unless I add the caveat that they may not be quite as faith-ful as they'd like to be.
     
  23. BrianIff
    Offline

    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,294
    Likes Received:
    433
    Location:
    Canada
    I think she's referring to Biblical principles, which, as a Christian, she obviously views as better to have than not have. There's no reason to think she's saying people say 'screw all morality' if they lapse in or abandon faith.

    Also, the "vengeance is mine" quote is taken out of context here. It's referring to how Christians shouldn't seek revenge against people who have wronged them, that God will take care of matters in one way or another, and not necessarily by punishment. Christians will testify to being empowered to live in a way consistent to the Bible rather than out of fear of consequences -- if there's one in your life that you trust, by all means, seek confirmation. There are very few verses dealing with hell, so there's no reason to think that it's going to be a punishment for all non-Christians. We also have no idea how God deals with people who haven't been introduced to the Gospel, but assume that it is just. The emphasis is on how perfect and blissful heaven will be.

    Again, the thing about Pascal's Wager applies to the OP's problem of having a rational reason to believe. Someone offered it; it's not something that has a place in Christian doctrine.

    Thought you might want to consider these things and maybe rephrase your point before Mckk comes back online.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
  24. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    I can understand why you interpreted it this way - the truth is there are indeed plenty of Christians who would see a life lived without God as immoral. I know Christians who would rather work with other Christians because somehow they believe by virtue of being a Christian, they must have better morals. So I can forgive you for thinking that is also what I'm saying. However, it is not.

    When I said you must abandon a whole host of principles by not believing in God, I mean that you must abandon everything you have based your life on, every reason you've given yourself to behave as you do, everything you thought you have made sense of. Because God is at the foundation of all of that. Without God in your rationale of things, yes, you could still come to the conclusion that one should love one's enemies, but the way you reach that conclusion would have to be entirely different than before. By ceasing to believe in God, you have to say all of that - all the ways you've made sense of the world and why something is right or wrong - all that was erroneous. So there could indeed be a change of your moral principles - you'd still consider them moral because how you've made sense of it and the world has changed.

    Anyway, that's rather different from saying those without God are immoral or without principles. That's a whole topic altogether and doesn't really belong in this thread. While I can understand why some Christians seem to have this idea that non-believers are not obligated to be moral individuals, I disagree with the generalisation.

    @BayView - oh none of us are as faithful as we'd like. As for whether it is all Christians who had more peace at the hospital - I believe so. I wasn't there, but this is just what my husband told me. I can understand why you attribute it to delusion. At the heart of faith is simply how we as individuals make sense of the world - you know how there're some things you just feel is true? I think that's what it basically boils down to. Something beyond reason that strikes at the very core of how we make sense of the world.
     
  25. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,520
    Likes Received:
    1,346
    But, by implication, only Christians are entitled to follow Biblical principles.
     

Share This Page